Vashti Bunyan & Devendra Banhart – “How Could You Let Me Go” (Madelynn Von Ritz aka Lynn Castle Cover)
In 1970, the English folk singer Vashti Bunyan released one album, Just Another Diamond Day, before slipping into obscurity. That album didn’t sell, but it became a cult favorite, especially among the artists of the ’00s freak-folk world. Bunyan left the music world behind to raise her kids, not even realizing how the music she’d made had resonated. In 2004, Bunyan reemerged, singing a duet called “Rejoicing In The Hands” with her young fan Devendra Banhart. Bunyan has gone on to an active recording career, making her own music and collaborating with artists like Animal Collective and the Avalanches. Today, Bunyan and Banhart gotten back together to cover a song from another obscure folk singer-songwriter.
Like Vasti Bunyan, Madelynn Von Ritz made some powerful music in past decades, and then she left all that behind. Like Bunyan, Von Ritz was surprised, late in life, when that music found a new audience. Von Ritz was a barber to the stars in late-’60s Los Angeles, and she also tried her hand as a singer-songwriter. In 1967, Von Ritz recorded her single “The Lady Barber” with the great Lee Hazlewood. The song, released under the name Lynn Castle, was a minor Hot 100 hit, but then Von Ritz didn’t release anything else for many years. She recorded more songs with producers like Jack Nitzsche, but they didn’t come out until 2019, when Light In The Attic finally released the Lynn Castle album Rose Colored Corner.
The forthcoming compilation Light In The Attic & Friends collects covers of songs that the label has released over the years; we’ve already posted Ethan and Maya Hawke’s version of Willie Nelson’s “We Don’t Run.” Today, Vashti Bunyan and Devendra Banhart — who have collaborated many times over the years, most recently on “Will I See You Tonight?,” a song from Devendra’s 2019 album Ma — have gotten back together for a new version of Lynn Castle’s “How Could You Let Me Go?” That song was an unreleased demo that Castle recorded in the ’80s, and Light In The Attic released it on the 2019 EP You Are The One. Castle’s original sounds very much like an ’80s song, but Bunyan and Banhart have taken its aesthetic back to the psychedelic era. Below, listen to Bunyan and Banhart’s cover and the Lynn Castle original.
The Light in the Attic & Friends compilation is out 11/24. Vashti Bunyan published her memoir Wayward: Just Another Life To Live last year, while Devendra Banhart released his album Flying Wig earlier this fall.